July 30, 2014

BREAKING NEWS: Opponents of the Vermont Gas pipeline staged a sit-in protest at the Williston staging area Wednesday morning, attempting to stop work on the pipeline extension project. Look for the story in tomorrow’s Observer.

Guest Column

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Without a healthy lake, we break

July 29, 2010

By Ross Saxton

“I don’t go in the lake, so I don’t give a sh!%.”

This quote, which is directly from a resident who lives on Lake Champlain, describes the unfortunate attitude that some people have toward the lake’s health and safety. You don’t need to go in the lake to be affected by it; you just need to live somewhat near the lake to feel its effects — whether it be physically, economically or its influence on the quality of your life.

If Lake Champlain disappeared tomorrow, a lot of Vermonters and New Yorkers would be out of not just a job, but also a lifestyle. We have two options — we can keep doing what we’re currently doing and let lake pollution get out of control, or we can each make a few small changes and bring the lake we love and know back to a safe, clean and economic magnet that will pay dividends now and into the future. I know, the lake obviously won’t disappear overnight, but if we keep polluting it with things such as septic waste, dog feces, pesticides, personal care products and phosphorous from our lawns and farms, it might as well not even exist. What’s the point of being next to a lake that no one can (or wants to) swim in, fish in, boat on, drink from or smell?

Much of our local economy would evaporate if the lake becomes more undesirable. Our superior quality of life, one of the primary reasons many of us live here in Vermont, will go belly-up if we don’t do something soon. Our property values would also take a hit. Don’t forget where our drinking and bathing water comes from, either — more pollution in the lake means more chemicals in our tap water and more taxes to buy and administer these chemicals. If we do the necessary things to reduce our own impact on the lake, stormwater fees, like Burlington and South Burlington currently have, can be reduced, or prevented in the case of towns such as Colchester and Shelburne.

But the Green Mountains and forests aren’t going anywhere, so we would at least still have those to support our economy … right? Maybe not, if our past behavior toward the lake is similar toward our forests.

The connection between our forested mountains and the lake is quite intimate, so while we focus our attention to the small things we can do for the lake, like cutting our grass 3 inches or higher, only applying necessary fertilizers to our lawns and redirecting downspouts away from roads and driveways, it is also essential to make sure that development is done in a way that has minimal affects on our waterways and water bodies. Maintaining naturally vegetated buffers of 50 continuous feet away from surface waters is a great example of a smart development approach that will benefit our waterways and us.

The great thing is that a few easy and unobtrusive changes in our behavior can have a significantly positive influence on the lake, which in return will reward us with incomparable economic and quality of life benefits. Together, with these small and simple changes, we can choose to keep our children healthy, maintain fish and other native aquatic species in the lake and keep money in our pockets. What’s your choice?

Ross Saxton is the program manager for the BLUESM Certification Program at Colchester-based Tethys Corp. Ross can be reached at 383-8400 or [email protected]

Correction

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July 29, 2010

A story in last week’s paper, “Board sets water, sewer rates,” provided the incorrect date of when the rates go into effect. Water and sewer rates will take effect with the second quarter billing for August 2010. Kimberly Richburg of the Public Works Department said customers will see the rate increase on November bills.

The Selectboard set the rates on July 19 with the intention of them taking effect with the second quarter billing for August 2010, although language for the vote specified August 2011. Town Manager Rick McGuire said a correction would be made at the next board meeting.

Around Town

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July 29, 2010

Instead of Fall Festival, celebrate summer

Adams Apple Orchard & Farm Market has decided to cancel its annual Fall Harvest Festival after losing half its apple crop to a May frost, but instead will host a summer festival.

The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 21 and 22. Activities will include pony rides, a bounce house, face painting and food sampling. The festival will also feature a Pennsylvania Peach Cook-Off.

For more information on the festival or to register for the Peach Cook-Off by Aug. 15, contact the market at 879-5226 or [email protected]

Williston’s Hometown Hero

Laura Parker of Williston has been nominated as a Hometown Hero for the United Way of Chittenden County.

Parker’s nomination came in the Adult Category for her service to Prevent Child Abuse Vermont.

Nominees include 135 individuals and six businesses in five categories. The winners will be announced Sept. 10 at a breakfast in the Sheraton Burlington Hotel & Conference Center.

A panel of community members will select the winners in each category. The agency served by each winner will receive $1,000, thanks to grants from Citizen’s Bank and the Argosy Foundation on behalf of John Abele.

The public can attend the awards breakfast for $15 per person. Make reservations by calling 860-1677 x822.

Companies say specialty jobs hard to fill

A number of Vermont businesses say they’re having trouble finding people to fill certain jobs that demand specific sets of skills.

Experts tell the Burlington Free Press recruiting highly skilled workers is hard in a rural state with a relatively small native work force and high cost of living.

Some of the examples include Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, which has been trying for more than a year to hire a radiation therapy physicist.

Microprocessor Designs of Shelburne is trying to hire an electrical engineer with experience with the software used in micro-controllers.

Steve Arms says his company MicroStrain of Williston is working to overcome the shortage by training paid interns, many from Vermont colleges and universities, to fill the positions.

— The Associated Press

Observer anniversary – July news

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July a month of baseball, divers and name changes

July 29, 2010

The Williston Observer is celebrating its 25th year providing news to the community. Here are some stories from past months of July:

> The July 1987 edition of the Williston Whistle included an article about resident Mike Bonfigli’s visit home from volunteer work with the Peace Corps in Honduras. In the Central American country, Bonfigli helped organize classes for lobster divers, teaching them safe scuba diving methods.

> The July 1989 issue of the Williston Whistle was dedicated to the new town plan, which was ready to be reviewed at a series of public meetings. The former town plan was adopted in 1982. Major issues included managing growth, preserving open land, providing affordable housing and protecting the historic town center.

> The Planning Commission approved the site plan for the Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club at Taft Corners in 1991, as reported in the July 1991 edition of the Whistle. Wal-Mart opened in 1997.

> Residents of the Lake Iroquois area organized to combat the spread of the invasive aquatic plant Eurasian milfoil, according to an article in the July 15, 1992 issue of the Whistle. Volunteer divers pulled plants out by the roots, which are about the size of a basketball, near the boat access and a cove at the southern end of the lake.

> The Williston Selectboard used an ice cream truck to reach out to residents, according to the July 27, 1995 issue of the Whistle. The Selectboard visited several neighborhoods, giving out free ice cream, in an effort to be more visible and boost attendance at its often-empty meetings.

> The Williston Planning Commission approved the final subdivision and site plan for the Maple Tree Place development in a 6-1 decision just before midnight on July 8, as reported in the July 10, 1997 issue of the Whistle. According to the article, “a vocal majority of Williston residents” and town officials were supportive of the project.

> The July 15, 1999 edition of the Williston Whistle included a story about Rachel Salvatori, the first girl to make Williston’s District I Little League Tournament Team. Rachel, then 10 years old, had been playing baseball for six years and said she wasn’t surprised to have made the team, according to the article.

> The July 7, 2000 issue of the Whistle contained an article about Williston residents Eileen Blackwood and Lynn Goyette. The two “became one of the first gay and lesbian couples in U.S. history to be joined in civil union,” the Whistle reported. The Saturday morning ceremony took place in Monkton, hours after the couple obtained a license at Williston Town Hall.

> The Haunted Forest reached an agreement to move to Catamount Outdoor Family Center in Williston, the Whistle reported on July 25, 2002. The annual Halloween-time event, which features spooky skits, had been located at the Audubon Nature Center in Huntington. The Haunted Forest still takes place at Catamount each year.

> On July 31, 2003, the Williston Whistle changed its name to the Williston Observer. The change had been announced the previous week “to better reflect the paper’s role in the community.” Over the previous 18 years, the community newspaper had evolved from a volunteer monthly publication to a weekly staffed by journalists, graphic artists, account executives and publishers. Some readers still refer to the paper as the Whistle.

> Champlain Valley Union High School gained a new mascot in 2005. The Redhawks replaced the Crusaders, the Observer reported on July 14 that year. The new name beat out the Red Wolves and the Bobcats in a district-wide survey.

> Williston’s 11- and 12-year-old Little League All-Star team won the state championship in 2008, with a story appearing in the Observer on July 31. The team had won the District I title a week earlier with a 6-4 win over South Burlington. Williston’s All-Stars were eventually knocked out of the New England Regional Little League Tournament, played in Connecticut.

> The July Fourth preview in the July 2, 2009 edition of the Observer noted that the town’s annual Ice Cream Social would for the first time be a waste-free event. The Williston Historical Society and Williston Green Initiatives partnered to offer compostable utensils and biodegradable bowls instead of Styrofoam plates and plastic spoons.

CVS takes steps to build pharmacy in Williston

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Imported Car Center would relocate

July 29, 2010

By Greg Duggan
Observer staff

CVS/pharmacy has approval to move onto the discretionary permit phase of development for a proposed project in Taft Corners.

The Development Review Board held a public hearing last month for a pre-application review of a CVS pharmacy, and authorized the project to apply for a discretionary permit. If Rhode Island-based CVS opts to pursue a discretionary permit and the project is approved, it would also mean a new home for the Imported Car Center.

Arlo Cato, owner of the Imported Car Center and the property at 2466 St. George Road, said he would sell the property to CVS and relocate to a nearby spot.

“I like what I do and I love this town, so I’m planning on staying here,” Cato said, though he acknowledged he could move the business outside Williston but within the area.

Cato said that he’s 62 years old and received a strong financial offer from CVS for the property. The pharmacy would raze the Imported Car Center to build a two-story, 13,600 square foot building. If approved, the building would be the first project to be constructed under new development regulations from last June that call for high quality, mixed-use designs.

“It argues for the (Development Review) Board being very careful and deliberate on what it is they approve, knowing it will set the standard,” Planning Director Ken Belliveau said. “It’s a prominent location. If this building is designed well, it will be a positive for the town. If not, if it’s junk, we’ll have to live with it for a long time.”

Representatives from CVS presented the plans to the Development Review Board on June 22. Under the development regulations, a project in the Taft Corners Zoning District must meet five of nine criteria. The CVS facility would attempt to meet those standards by offering multiple retail uses, multiple stories, wide sidewalks, public art and an urban park, according to minutes from the June 22 meeting.

Other plans call for a brick façade and a parking area behind the building.

Senior project engineer David Fenstermacher of design and engineering firm Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc. could not be reached for comment prior to press deadline.

Belliveau said Tuesday that CVS officials had requested a meeting with the Planning Office to discuss details of the project, but said he was unsure of when the project would reappear before the Development Review Board for a discretionary permit hearing. Belliveau said the project would also require an Act 250 land use permit from the state.

At the earliest, Belliveau said he doesn’t expect any construction to begin until next spring or summer.

Cato said he is frustrated by the lengthy legal and permitting requirements the town has for approving the CVS project, and was unsure when a move for the Imported Car Center would take place.

“I don’t know if it will take one year or two years,” he said.

Town considers leeway for expired subdivisions

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July 29, 2010

By Greg Duggan
Observer staff

Aware that its development bylaws create a complicated set of rules, the town of Williston is considering giving a break to developers whose permits for projects may have expired.

Residential development in Williston occurs through a growth management system, which allows only a limited number of units to be built each year. The Development Review Board grants growth management allocation to proposed projects based on a scoring system that identifies the best developments.

The system has been in place since 1990. Part of the challenge of the system, however, is that growth management allocations only last for a limited number of years; once those years pass, the allocations expire.

Now, the regulations clarify that a project has four years to be built after receiving growth management allocation, but previous regulations were more vague.

“It’s not the norm in the U.S. It’s not the norm in this part of Vermont, either,” Planning Director Ken Belliveau told the Observer. “Our system is a lot more complex than other systems.”

Belliveau said his department asked the Planning Commission about adding flexibility to the system to account for applications that, due to the confusing language of the bylaws, may have expired or are at risk of expiring.

Under the proposed plan, Belliveau and his staff would review projects from the past 10 or 15 years that may have expired. Applicants for those projects would be notified early next year, and given a chance to reapply for growth management allocation. Typically, if a growth management allocation expires the applicant must start anew with the application and hearing process.

Belliveau doesn’t expect to see many projects that qualify for the exemption.

“It could be a couple of handfuls,” he said. “Most are probably likely to be located sort of in the more rural areas of towns.”

Belliveau presented the idea to the Selectboard on July 19.

“This is probably one of the most complicated issues I’ve ever had to deal with,” Belliveau told the board.

He explained that to qualify for an exemption for an expired permit, an applicant would need to demonstrate some effort to start building. Such a demonstration of intent could include the construction of a road or some homes of a subdivision.

“We want to see if we can make the system work for everybody involved,” Belliveau said.

At the meeting, Selectboard member Jeff Fehrs asked how a developer may react upon hearing that an old, expired project may be able to bypass some of the application process.

Belliveau reiterated the complexity and confusing nature of the rules of expiration and allocation in previous years.

“I think someone could raise the argument,” he said, “but we’re trying to make the best of the situation.”

To amend the bylaw, the Selectboard will need to hold a public hearing on the issue. No date has been set for a hearing.

Discovering nature in Southridge meadow

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July 29, 2010

By Greg Duggan
Observer staff

Williston resident Steven Shepard, pictured above, recently self-published a photo and essay book about the natural world near Williston’s Southridge neighborhood.

Many mornings over the past five years, regardless of the season, Southridge neighborhood resident Steven Shepard would wake early in the morning, grab his camera and trek into a field near his home. Shepard would wait in the meadow, letting the day come to life as he observed the nature around him — the birds, the grass, the flowers, the bugs. Then, with his camera, Shepard would snap away.

Other days, Shepard would sit in the meadow at dusk, or well into the night, always observing and taking photographs.

He recently produced the result of those five years of work in a coffee table book of photos and essays entitled “A Year in Southridge Meadow.” Organized by season, the photos range from tiny insects to fungi to snowy fields.

“There’s this incredible awareness of what’s there if you’re willing to look for it,” Shepard said during an interview at the Observer office while flipping through a copy of his book and pointing out pictures of flowers, vines and insects.

Shepard, who calls himself a “frustrated biologist,” has lived in Southridge for 20 years. In the foreword of his book, Shepard writes, “At the bottom of our street is a large open field, common land that is jointly owned by all of the residents of Southridge …. Every chance I have I walk down to the field with my cameras and spend an hour or two photographing the chaos of life that I find there.”

With the book, he said he wants “to give parents and teachers a tool to open children’s eyes to the natural world around them.” He even included a section at the end of the book about activities that will make children more aware of their natural surroundings.

Shepard said he’s talked to Williston Central School teacher Julie Longchamp about using the book in the classroom. She could not be reached for comment.

Yet Shepard said the book can enlighten adults as well, with its aesthetic images and thoughtful essays.

During the years of observing, photographing and writing about Southridge meadow, Shepard said he was surprised by the “immense diversity of insect life” and the amount of activity occurring in the cold winter months.

“People just aren’t aware the stuff is there,” Shepard said.

With his essays, Shepard said he wanted to “reflect the transition that takes place from season to season.”

As founder and president of Shepard Communications Group, Shepard travels internationally for a good portion of the year. He does some commercial photography, and has written dozens of books on communication technology and other aspects of technology. Those books were published by McGraw-Hill. “A Year in Southridge Meadow” is Shepard’s second venture into the world of self-publishing. Because he travels so frequently, Shepard takes many pictures of the places he visits. Approximately two years ago, he used Blurb.com to publish a travel book for his clients.

“A Year in Southridge Meadow” was also published through Blurb. Shepard explained that he chose the layout for the book, which comes in various sizes and prices ranging from $22.95 to $92.95. Shepard said he’ll make $2 on orders of the smaller version of the book, and is selling the large, coffee table version at cost.

“I’m not in it for the money, I’m doing it because it’s a fun project,” Shepard said.

Though the book itself is specific to a certain spot in Williston, Shepard said the same creatures and plants he photographed in Southridge live throughout Vermont.

“A Year in Southridge Meadow” is available online by visiting blurb.com and searching for “Southridge meadow.” Shepard also created a Facebook page for the book called “Southridge Meadow.”

Road Watch

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ANTICIPATED WORK FOR THE WEEK OF JULY 26, 2010

Burlington

Road construction will reduce traffic to one lane at times on the following Burlington streets:

  • South Prospect from Maple to Ledge Drive
  • Conger Avenue
  • Marion Street
  • Harrison Avenue
  • Ledgemere Street
  • Jackson Court
  • Harrington Terrace
  • Main Street from Battery to St. Paul
  • Pine Street from Maple to Bank
  • Pine Street from Pearl to Cherry
  • St. Paul from Bank Street to College
  • St. Paul from Pearl to Cherry
  • George Street
  • Peru Street
  • Margaret Street

Colchester

Motorists should be aware of large equipment on the edge of the roadway in the area of Church Road and Holy Cross Road during the week. Traffic control will be present.

Essex

Sidewalk construction on Route 15 eastbound between Sunset Drive to the Price Chopper Plaza entrance will cause lane closures and occasional traffic delays. Traffic control is present, and this project should be completed by Sept. 1.

Essex Junction

Work on Pearl Street between the main gate of the fairgrounds and the intersection with the post office will last through Nov. 1. Most of the work will be between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., with occasional night work possible. Two-way traffic will be maintained at all times with traffic control present.

Interstate 89

Drivers should be aware of construction activity near the exit 14W northbound ramp. Uniformed traffic officers are stationed on the ramp and in the shoulder area.

Work to improve the exit 15 northbound ramp on I-89 in Winooski will cause traffic delays. Late in the week, crews may relocate concrete barriers and change traffic patterns. Motorists are advised to use alternate routes if possible.

Jericho

Sidewalk construction on Route 15 from Lawrence Heights to Griswold Street will cause periodic lane closures through September.

South Burlington

Traffic on White Street from Airport Parkway to Williston Road will be delayed due to work on a water line. Traffic will be maintained, but motorists should expect delays and avoid the area if possible.

Motorists should be aware of construction vehicles entering and leaving the main entrance to Holiday Inn on Williston Road during the day.

Road construction on San Remo Drive will reduce traffic to one lane at times.

Underhill

Pleasant Valley Road from Mountain Road to New Road will be closed to ALL traffic starting through Aug. 3. It will reopen on Aug. 4. The road will NOT reopen at night in order to complete the reconstruction of the road faster and more efficiently. Alternate routes include Irish Settlement or Lower Valley Road to Route 15 in Cambridge.

Westford

Roadwork in Westford Village proceeding to the intersection of Vermont Routes 128 and 104 will cause lane closures and short traffic delays. Traffic flow will be maintained with traffic control present. Motorists should use extreme caution while traveling through the work zone. This project is expected to be completed by Sept. 12.

County-wide

Motorists should be alert for bridge washing and mowing along all county roads. Minor traffic delays should be expected.

For additional information, contact Administrative Advantage at 802-872-9757. More information on current activities at the Chittenden County Metropolitan Planning Organization is available online at www.ccmpo.org.

Volunteers

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The listings below are a small sample of needs from more than 200 agencies, available by going online to www.unitedwaycc.org and clicking on “Volunteer.” If you do not have computer access, or would like more information about the volunteer opportunities, call 860-1677 Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

SHARE YOUR PETS

Converse Home seniors would love to be introduced to your people-friendly pets. Visit with residents in the common area and see their eyes light up with joy. Pets must have up-to-date vaccination records, but do not have to be a licensed Therapy Dog. Flexible weekday, evening and weekend scheduling.

VOLUNTEERS IN POLICE SERVICE

Burlington Police Department needs volunteers to help address noise complaints by providing validation and resource support to Burlington residents impacted by party and “social noise.” Through follow-up calls, volunteers provide information about police response to noise complaints and provide direct services to community members impacted by noise. Training provided. Flexible weekday scheduling.

YARD SALE

KidSafe Collaborative of Chittenden County will fill an entire pavilion at the Champlain Valley Expo with quality items at bargain prices to help prevent and address child abuse and neglect. Volunteers are needed to help sort and set up before the event (Aug. 11-13), at the sale itself (Aug. 14, 15) and to help clean up (Aug. 16). Flexible three-hour shifts each day.

PLEDGE TIME

Vermont Public Television is gearing up for a pledge drive in early August and needs volunteer individuals and groups to answer phone calls and help with paperwork. Aug. 1, 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Aug. 3, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Training and snacks provided.

ARTS MANAGER

Island Arts in North Hero is looking for a volunteer to help with daily workload and to take some leadership role in coordinating people and projects for next year’s brochure. Flexible scheduling.

SERVING YOUTH

Essex CHIPS & Teen Center needs volunteers to help provide support to on-site CHIPS staff during Stomping Ground events. Tasks include service as a role model and mentor, keeping watch on the Emergency Fire Exit and rest room, monitoring events and generally helping to provide a fun and safe environment for youth. Weekly staff meetings, when possible (Friday, 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.). Flexible scheduling.

HELPING THE HOMELESS

The Committee on Temporary Shelter is seeking volunteers to address a number of important needs.

> The Daystation – Help clients in weekly jobs group (including resume writing, interviewing, computer basics and other job-related skills. Monday and Tuesday mornings.

> Story Time – Read to children to encourage early literacy at family shelters. Monday through Thursday evening scheduling, 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Background check required.

> Childcare – Provide childcare and activities (arts and crafts, field trips and more) for children. Flexible Tuesday through Thursday evening scheduling. Background check required.

> Front Desk – Welcome clients, staff and guests, answer phones, light clerical duties at Daystation (flexible weekday morning schedule) or administrative building (Monday or Tuesday afternoon).

> Hair Stylist and/or barber – Provide haircuts, styling for clients and help provide confidence and a boost in self-esteem. Flexible weekday and evening scheduling.

This Week’s Popcorn: Inception

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‘Inception,’ perchance to dream

By Michael S. Goldberger
Special to the Observer

Anyone who says he totally comprehends writer-director Christopher Nolan’s surreally fascinating yet confounding “Inception” is full of it. Aside from the economy, rarely is there so much pontification about what is so little understood. Which, if you don’t mind someone having a bit of sport with you, is what makes this movie such strange fun.

Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Cobb, a mysterious operative whose career in things clandestine has him venturing not only over sovereign borders but also, via the latest technology, into others’ dreams. This poses the proverbial puzzle wrapped in an enigma, and then some. When we meet the mind traveler, he’s been offered a dangerous job.

Like all great fictional endeavors, of course it’s never been done before … or so it is thought. The assignment comes from Mr. Saito, a mega-powerful international player who doesn’t want dying Maurice Fischer’s (Pete Postlethwaite) gigantic energy conglomerate passed intact to sonny boy Robert Fischer Jr. (Cillian Murphy).

If there were a written estimate for the exploit, it might read: Do Inception, whereby contractor will delve three dreams down into subject’s mind and plant idea to divest inherited holdings. Price includes subcontracting dream architect, Ariadne (Ellen Page); engineer, Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt); and general finagler, Eames (Tom Hardy).

Fantastic indeed. But the truly outrageous achievement isn’t just the wildly inventive plot imagined and constructed by filmmaker Nolan, who previously bedeviled us with “Memento” (2000). It’s that he’s able to translate the concept and bring us into his ingenious chimera. While entirely confused, we know we’ve been somewhere, or other.

But the craziness aside, this is a typical action-suspense yarn, with all sorts of hair-raising, cliff-hanging stunts on each of the prefabricated dreams’ plateaus. Adding to the excitement are the numerous what ifs always inherent to such groundbreaking, potentially fatal exploits. I.e., What if someone wakes up, or if they die in any of the three reveries?

Assuring it is as visually exciting as it is mind-boggling, Mr. Nolan imparts what he has no doubt synthesized from Salvador Dali, Sigmund Freud, Gertrude Stein and all that gang. Yet in positing that ideas and matter function in several dimensions, major accomplishment #2 is that he doesn’t fall off the edge of the world he has designed.

While it’s one thing to formulate a truly loopy science fiction scenario, it’s yet another to sustain that premise and maintain a consistent logic the entire length of the film. Wafted away in this kaleidoscopic quest, we find ourselves thinking in its mechanisms. The nutty thing is, the interpretation is unlikely to be the same for any two moviegoing companions.

Such is the consequence of abstract artistry and the sort of creative analysis it engenders (see Einstein’s theory of relativity). And that’s a good thing if you like to have Marge and Frank over for coffee and cake afterwards to mull the movie. How you can stand Frank I don’t know, but you can bet he’ll be able to expound with his usual, smug conviction.

Never one to put much credence in what Frank and his ilk think, I prefer to believe that, while Nolan envisions a particular theoretical reality, he might explain his work in the way Robert Browning was said to describe the meaning of a poem. The bard allegedly informed, “Only God and I knew what it meant when I wrote it; now only God knows.”

Left-brained sorts who decry the Yin and Yang of our being should thus consider avoiding what they’re bound to view as a perfect example of the Big Fraud. Those, however, who can enjoy a roller coaster ride without knowing exactly why might want to give it a shot. Still, this doesn’t define “Inception,” let alone imply that it’s a good film.

What can be safely affirmed is that it is definitely a movie and, as such, most of the acting performances are spot on, especially when you consider the hypothetical circumstances in which the characters are realized. Successfully establishing the fantasy, Leonardo DiCaprio exudes the frazzling tentativeness of the world he explores.

Aiding and abetting all suppositions, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Arthur is all you could ask for in a right-hand man; Ken Watanabe is appropriately imperious as Mr. Saito, the inscrutable mover and shaker; Ellen Page is winsome as the objective, quick-study outsider; and Tom Hardy’s Eames adds a quirky, arrogantly self-effacing comic edge.

But because this review never satisfactorily explains what the film is about, the thought is it’s the do-it-yourself aspect that ultimately may entice viewers. The mental equivalent of checking your own groceries, you supply the illumination. The only thing I’m sure of is that I did see “Inception.” That is, assuming it wasn’t all just a dream.

“Inception,” rated PG-13, is a Warner Bros. Pictures release directed by Christopher Nolan and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Running time: 148 minutes.